Sorrow, the Meaning for the Woman in Genesis 3:16
Genesis 3:16 records “Sorrow” twice for the woman. What’s the meaning of this double dose?
Sorrow is an unfortunate but present by-product of our intrepid 21st-century lifestyle. Supposed remedies flourish, but it is the plague of our modern age. Here’s the meaning, and shortly, we shall see the antidote. There is one, for sure.
We’re discussing the results following the eating of the forbidden fruit. This blog post reveals what happens to the woman.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shalt bruise his heel.
16 To the woman he said, I will greatly (H7235) multiply (H7235) your sorrow (H6093), and your conception; (H2032) in sorrow (H6089) you shall bring forth (H3205) children; (H1121) and your desire (H8669) shall be to your husband (H376), and he shall rule (H4910) over you.
There are a lot of concepts via the Biblical Hebrew words. The Explanation will elaborate. But, we don’t want to get bogged down in word studies. The goal is understanding God’s Word in the Bible, as it relates to us today. Yes, the authors of this book received inspiration and wrote it starting about 3500 years ago. However, it is a contemporary message for us today.
We need to step back from this blog post and get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in Genesis 3 and with The Explanation. I’ll start with the latter. As we go through these verses about eating from a forbidden tree, hiding in the trees, a serpent on its belly, we tend to focus on these specific issues. They are questions, and you want answers. As I develop the meaning of a Biblical Hebrew word, hopefully, a light goes on, and you’re thinking, “I didn’t realize that.” And then, we go and do more in-depth study and get wrapped up in Strong’s concordance and the sense of a phrase.
That is not what The Explanation is trying to accomplish. We’re expounding the Biblical Hebrew to UNLOCK Bible Meaning. These first chapters in Genesis are monumental; they establish the foundation of our known world. And the verses we’re looking at, tell the story of humankind. Each verse is a cryptic message describing an aspect of our society that will take place throughout six millennia — approximately 6000 years from Creation to the Return of Christ.
The Bible confirms this timeframe, as we’ve seen. Genesis 3:15 refers to it with the “bruising of your head,” which we’ll cover with Gen. 3:24 in about ten blog posts. The term “enmity between you (the Serpent) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed” refers to descendants over this period of 6000 years.
Be careful interpreting “the Serpent’s seed.” It can NOT and does NOT have sex. Neither spiritually nor physically; this is an essential piece as it is evoked in mythology where the gods are seducing and having sex with humans. It is also invoked concerning parenting giants in Gen. 6:4. We shall discuss that when we get to Genesis 6.
In the spirit world, that of God, the angels, and the demons, including the Serpent, there is neither marriage nor sex. Read Christ’s words in Mark 12:25, “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” It is a fundamental point that gives the answer to all the myths and surmisings.
We can add here that God, the Father, did NOT have sex with Mary, the mother of God the Son. The Holy Spirit came over Mary. IF the Holy Spirit had sex with Mary, then the Holy Spirit would be the Father, which is NOT the case. The Holy Spirit is God’s Power, which, through a miracle, fertilized one of Mary’s ova. NO sex was involved. Later, Mary had normal sexual relations with Joseph, and she birthed four sons and at least two daughters (Mark 6:3) in a typical fashion, just like every other woman.
The point I want to make here is each of these verses in Genesis is a STORY NOT AN EVENT. Nothing in these verses is a one-time, over-and-done occurrence. We could call these pronouncements prophetical. They foretell what is going to occur with the Serpent, the man and the woman over the next 6000 years. This timeframe is needed, according to God’s Plan, to provide enough time to judge a situation. Do not confound judging with sentencing. Judging is evaluating and necessarily takes time. Sentencing is the verdict which can be a quick, simple statement.
The pronouncements on the Serpent, the woman, and the man are judgments. The protagonists experience the RESULTS of their DISobedience to God’s voice and following their observations and feelings.
A period of JUDGMENT. Last week we saw that God judged and sentenced the Serpent to slither on its belly and eat dust, which means an abomination devouring humans. We shall see WHY there’s a judgment period, why it has to be a lengthy period. Gen. 3:16 is the judgment of the woman and Gen. 3:17–19 is the judgment of the man as a result of using their human nature and free choice to display behavior that disobeyed the ethics God gave them.
Humankind functions this way. When one’s behavior is DISobedient, there’s a judgment, a price to pay, an amendment to make. This judgment is inescapable. You cannot flaunt rules with impunity. Sooner or later, such flaunting will catch up with each one of us; this is a foundational lesson of life that many have not integrated.
Details will be forthcoming before we end this book on Agony of Humankind. But this period of judgment begins immediately after the offense, all offenses. In this case, that of the man and the woman.
Multiplication of Worry, Pain, and Conception
Now, let’s get into Genesis 3:16. It doubles the Biblical Hebrew word for many. We read, “Greatly (H7235) multiply (H7235)…” We’ve seen the way of emphasizing the certainty of actions with surely die “die, die” and freely eat with “eat, eat.” Human and female sorrow, even a double-dose, unfortunately, is a reality. Some philosophies and meditation practices somehow try to make it appear, or rather, disappear, like some sort of illusion. That is not the case; it’s real. The question is, what is the lesson of sorrow?
רָבָה râbâh raw-baw’; a primitive root; to increase (in whatever respect):
KJV — (bring in) abundance ([idiom] -antly), + archer (by mistake for H7232 (רָבַב)), be in authority, bring up, ⨯ continue, enlarge, excel, exceeding(-ly), be full of, (be, make) great(-er, -ly, ⨯ -ness), grow up, heap, increase, be long, (be, give, have, make, use) many (a time), (any, be, give, give the, have) more (in number), (ask, be, be so, gather, over, take, yield) much (greater, more), (make to) multiply, nourish, plenty(-eous), ⨯ process (of time), sore, store, thoroughly, very.
One could get the impression that God is the sole One responsible for multiplying this sorrow when He says I will greatly multiply your sorrow. Or, as a result of the curse pronounced in verse 17. Such a conclusion omits the couple’s wrongdoing from the equation. Once again, God can and does intervene to punish and bring about adverse conditions as exemplified by the flood episode. However, let’s not forget a fundamental point here: the man and woman moved into a new realm, that of making their OWN decisions as to what’s good and evil’, right and wrong, not taking into consideration Godly principles. This behavior, of and by itself, is enough to bring plenty of worry, pain, and sorrow.
Let’s transpose this comprehension and apply it to our 21st-century environment where humankind has made many, many decisions, as we saw in Audit of the Universe and Audit of Humankind. Choices decided on without consideration of God’s principles, particularly the one about regarding neighbor as self. Then, we cannot hold God responsible for the planet’s misery and despair. A lot of this is because of human-made decisions, and women and men must, therefore, accept the consequences, the worry, the pain, and sorrow that accompany such acts. God says He’ll multiply the sorrow, but the primary source of it is humankind.
Sorrow is a universal sentiment. Both men and women are vessels of this sorrow. It so happens women are more affected with anxiety and negativity than men, as we shall see.
עִצָּבוֹן ʻitstsâbôwn its-tsaw-bone’; from H6087 (עָצַב); worrisomeness, i.e. labor or pain:
KJV — sorrow, toil.
עָצַב ʻâtsab aw-tsab’; a primitive root; properly, to carve, i.e. fabricate or fashion; hence (in a bad sense) to worry, pain or anger:
KJV — displease, grieve, hurt, make, be sorry, vex, worship, wrest.
This exact word is only used three times in the Bible. In verse 16 for the woman, in the next verse for the man, and Genesis 5:29, “And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: 29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil (H6087) of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.”
This was Lamech’s hope; he was right and wrong on two counts. No curse and no comfort at that time. God said there would be no curse similar to the flood, (Remember only God could cause such a worldwide flood, It was God’s doing but for an excellent reason. The same reason Balaam gave to Balac, immorality). The spiritual comfort and counterpart of Noah are Jesus Christ, Who gets us through the flood. And the ground will be healed when He returns.
These couple of articles below inform us that women are more prone to despair
Examining Sex and Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent group of psychiatric disorders. It is well-documented that females are more likely than males to develop an anxiety disorder with lifetime and past-year rates of anxiety disorders being 1.5–2 times higher among females than males.
Women are far more anxious than men — here’s the science. But in addition to biological mechanisms, women and men seem to experience and react to events in their life differently. Women tend to be more prone to stress, which can increase their anxiety. Also, when faced with stressful situations, women and men tend to use different coping strategies.
Women faced with life stressors are more likely to ruminate about them, which can increase their anxiety, while men engage more in active problem-focused coping. Other studies suggest that women are more likely to experience physical and mental abuse than men, and abuse has been linked to the development of anxiety disorders.
For example, social anxiety in the West is typically manifested as an intense fear of social situations, high self-consciousness, and fear of being judged and criticized by others during interactions and performance situations.
The reality of the 21st-century is the confirmation of Genesis 3:16. Again, let’s realize that this is not God’s direct doing. Following their disobedience, to cover up what they had done, the man and the woman took things into their own hands by hiding and crafting a covering for their bodies. Humanity has subsequently crafted its own solutions, which, instead of solving problems, have given rise to the unhappiness and misery that afflicts women, and of course, men.
When we read, “God says I will greatly multiply… your conception,” we think, conceiving and giving birth: this is certainly the case, but it goes much further than that. It includes reference to an increase in the world population. Only the woman can do that. The Explanation devoted a section in Audit of Humankind to this subject, How Humankind Socializes. In the context of Genesis 3:16, I just want to emphasize the sources of despair mothers carry more so than fathers when it comes to their offspring. Gender inequality, couple relationships, unhealthy marriages, family relationships, parenting, ethnic, clans, and tribal conflicts, Integration, and Segregation. Here’s the Biblical Hebrew for conception.
הֵרוֹן hêrôwn hay-rone’; or הֵרָיוֹן; from H2029 (הָרָה); pregnancy:
KJV — conception.
הָרָה hârâh haw-raw’; a primitive root; to be (or become) pregnant, conceive (literally or figuratively):
KJV — been, be with child, conceive, progenitor.
Note the figurative usage of conceive. For example, in Psalm 7:14, conceive refers to mischief, or in Isaiah 59:13 words of falsehood. Both mischief and falsehoods can be and are at the origin of discouragement and depression.
There is another area, one of the two major fields where women have a primary role to play. In Genesis 1, we expounded on these relationships and rulership. Please revise that article to see the preponderant role women play here. Their skills of warmth, patience, openness, diplomacy are essential pieces in this field. As I pointed out in Audit of Humankind, there’s much to be desired in all types of relationships, from marriage and family to tribal, community, national, and international relations in the 21st century, and the situation has been similar down through history.
Parenting — in sorrow you shall bring forth children
In this same verse, we find, “In sorrow, the woman shall bring forth children.” It almost sounds like a repetition of the first allusion. Specifically, concerning the sorrow related to women, pain in childbirth is but the tip of the iceberg. Some societies (in Africa, what we might consider primitive) have little or no physical pain. This verse is referring to the social fiber in families from the rearing of children to that state of womanhood within marriage and in society in general. Here’s an additional meaning of sorrow.
H6089 — sorrow
עֶצֶב ʻetseb eh’-tseb; from H6087 (עָצַב); an earthen vessel; usually (painful) toil; also a pang (whether of body or mind):
KJV — grievous, idol, labor, sorrow.
H3205 — bring forth
יָלַד yâlad yaw-lad’; a primitive root; to bear young; causatively, to beget; medically, to act as midwife; specifically, to show lineage:
KJV — bear, beget, birth(-day), born, (make to) bring forth (children, young), bring up, calve, child, come, be delivered (of a child), time of delivery, gender, hatch, labour, (do the office of a) midwife, declare pedigrees, be the son of, (woman in, woman that) travail(-eth, -ing woman).
H1121 — children
בֵּן bên bane; from H1129 (בָּנָה); a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like father or brother), etc.):
KJV — + afflicted, age, (Ahoh-) (Ammon-) (Hachmon-) (Lev-) ite, (anoint-) ed one, appointed to, ([phrase]) arrow, (Assyr-) (Babylon-) (Egypt-) (Grec-) ian, one born, bough, branch, breed, + (young) bullock, + (young) calf, ⨯ came up in, child, colt, ⨯ common, ⨯ corn, daughter, ⨯ of first, + firstborn, foal, + very fruitful, + postage, ⨯ in, + kid, + lamb, ([phrase]) man, meet, + mighty, + nephew, old, ([phrase]) people, + rebel, + robber, ⨯ servant born, ⨯ soldier, son, + spark, + steward, + stranger, ⨯ surely, them of, + tumultuous one, + valiant(-est), whelp, worthy, young (one), youth.
Note that this despair is revolving around children and family. In today’s society, if there’s one area that women agonize over, it’s bringing up children and the wider reputation of the family. Never before have we had so many single-parent families. Children are to be brought up by a mother and a father in a twosome union. When a mother has to assume her own role, that of a father, and be the bread-winner, we’re setting up a sorrowful combination.
Wife, Husband Relationship
Remember the role for which God created the woman. She was made to be a helpmeet. Please revise the meaning of ‘ezer-neged’ The woman overstepped the boundary of her role. I know some women will be upset by that remark. I’m sorry, not so much for myself but for them. Why? Because God gave the woman her role. It has nothing to do with Sam. I’m just reporting what God clearly says in His Word. Helpmeet means walking BESIDE her husband; it means giving her honest, sincere opinion, including arguments to back it up. It means standing up and not being unfairly walked over. But, it does not mean taking the lead in the couple and making decisions for the couple.
I do not want to get into a more in-depth discussion than that; this post is only indirectly about marriage relationships. Suffice to say; the man had a severe problem; he did not step up to the plate and take the lead. He was NOT deceived, but he held back and let his wife take action. The man was a wimp; he has a serious problem. It’s not, who’s to blame more, the man or the woman? They both displayed weaknesses in their character. It was the COMBINED weakness that led to disobedience. The social relationship broke down.
The judgment on the woman in Genesis 3:16 for her action is that she and her progenitors are going to reap what they sow. If they don’t apply social relationships aptly, they will break down — a source of despair.
And your desire (H8669) shall be to your husband
The tidbit of a verse refers to the role of a wife, the woman’s relationship with her marital partner.
תְּשׁוּקָה tᵉshûwqâh tesh-oo-kaw’; from H7783 (שׁוּק) in the original sense of stretching out after; a longing:
KJV — desire.
שׁוּק shûwq shook; a primitive root; to run after or over, i.e. overflow:
KJV — overflow, water.
We find the same word in God’s discussion with Cain. Notice the usage. “If you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lies at the door. And to you shall be his desire (H8669), and you shall rule H4910 over him” (Genesis 4:7).
In other words, sin wants to OVERRUN Cain, run after, or over him, take hold of his mind; this is the concept of the Serpent’s belly. The gushing of water to drown him. The idea is identical to the DESIRE. This word is only used three times in the Bible, twice here in Genesis, and in Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire (H8669) is toward me.” Here it is the conquering love of a consenting and willing wife and lover who knows she’s going to be treated right.
The desire to her husband is a couple’s conflict. It’s her desire, attempt, or accomplishment to overrun him. It comes back to the role of a helpmeet being beside him. And, at the right time, being behind or in front. It’s a juggling act. In 2020 many influences are pushing wives out-of-step with their husbands. The same is true for the husbands as the second half of this verse states.
Your husband (H376), and he shall rule (H4910) over you
Study the Biblical Hebrew word for husband (H376). You’ll find the meaning extends way beyond husband and includes man, all men. This verse is discussing the man-woman relationship today. One of the most contemporary subjects is male-female relationships. The #metoo and FEMEN movements are but the most visible components of a deep-seated worldwide malaise between the sexes. It revolves around the right kind of respectful and respective dominance and submission. When that duo is out of balance, trouble not only brews, it boils over. We’re in hot water. Over-bearing and over-powerful are not good bedfellows; a relationship is a right balance for the couple. If not, it is a subject of sorrow, especially for women. That is the fulfillment of Genesis 3:16. Here’s the Hebrew for rule.
מָשַׁל mâshal maw-shal’; a primitive root; to rule:
KJV — (have, make to have) dominion, governor, ⨯ indeed, reign, (bear, cause to, have) rule(-ing, -r), have power.
Genders are fighting with each other on a couple’s basis or at a community level. There’s conflict worldwide as women and men try to find their place in an ever-changing mixed-up society. Some think they’re behind with an inferiority complex; others are convinced they’re ahead, with a superiority complex, even if they don’t know it. Relationship-rulership does not line up properly. The result is increasing sorrow and confusion. The following article is symptomatic of this troublesome relationship.
The increase of masculine aggression towards women since confinement in France.For anthropologist Chris Blache, the period of confinement offers “a precipitate of what we usually know” in terms of domination of men in public space.
“When you empty the public space, mechanical principles come back: the owners of these spaces experiment with their right to property”, adds the co-founder of the “Gender and city” laboratory, referring to “impunity/immunity” against coronavirus in men for whom “it is easier to play cat and mouse” in these deserted spaces.
An anxious woman going to work during daytime is evoking “a fear” that she feels “normally at night”, she adopted reflexes: “I pay attention to the people who follow me, on the subway platform.
Here’s a quote from an article about dating using online apps. Skimming this material makes you realize just how horrendous the gender scene has become. It’s open talk and open house where anything goes. It’s not a question of who’s to blame. That’s not the point. It’s time to realize that things are breaking at the seams.
“It seems like the girls don’t have any control over the situation (hook-up dating), and it should not be like that at all,” Fallon says.
“It’s a contest to see who cares less, and guys win a lot at caring less,” Amanda says.
“Sex should stem from emotional intimacy, and it’s the opposite with us right now, and I think it really is kind of destroying females’ self-images,” says Fallon.
“It’s body first, personality second,” says Stephanie.
“Honestly, I feel like the body doesn’t even matter to them as long as you’re willing,” says Reese. “It’s that bad.”
“But if you say any of this out loud, it’s like you’re weak, you’re not independent, you somehow missed the whole memo about third-wave feminism,” says Amanda.
Gender relationships are cracking all around us, across the globe. Too many men are resorting to harassing and bullying to get what they want. Women are fighting back with whatever ammunition they can muster. Such conflict can only lead to more sorrow.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 4.2 of the book Agony of Humankind.
A wise man once said, Teach you me, what I do not know.
Let’s get started with The Explanation.
- Inventory of the Universe
- Audit of the Universe
- Audit of Humankind
- Origin of the Universe (Commentary on Genesis 1)
- Origin of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 1:26–2:7)
- Origin of Woman (Commentary on Genesis 2:8–25)
- Agony of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 3)
You can read all the books of The Explanation series online. Buy the books at your favorite store. Sam blogs weekly at TheExplanation.com The Explanation masters Biblical Hebrew to help you unlock more in-depth Bible meaning. Free tools to read and study the Bible online.